The New York Times

By the Book: Maria Popova

THE AUTHOR OF “FIGURING” (AND THE BRAIN BEHIND THE BRAIN PICKINGS WEBSITE) LIKES HOW CHILDREN’S BOOKS SPEAK “A LANGUAGE OF ABSOLUTE SINCERITY, SO DELICIOUSLY COUNTERCULTURAL IN OUR AGE OF CYNICISM.”

Q: What books are on your nightstand?

A: I don’t have a nightstand per se — my bedroom is rather ascetic, with only a bed nestled between the constellation-painted walls. I do tend to keep a rotating selection of longtime favorites near or in it, to dip into before sleep — “The Little Prince” (which I reread at least once a year every year, and somehow find new wisdom and pertinence to whatever I am going through at the moment), “The Lives of the Heart,” by Jane Hirshfield, “Hope in the Dark,” by Rebecca Solnit, Thoreau’s diaries, “How the Universe Got Its Spots,” by Janna Levin. Of the piles that inevitably accumulate in every room of my house, friends’ books I have recently read and loved tower nearest the bed — part synonym and part antonym to the lovely Japanese concept of tsundoku, the guilt-pile of books acquired with the intention of reading but left unread. Currently among my anti-tsundoku: “Time Travel,” by James Gleick, “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine,” by Alan Lightman, “,” by Amanda Stern, “,” by Dani Shapiro, and

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